Just back from Ibague. 6 hours drive from Bogota!! (Well with a 1hr lunch break but still!)
We arrived first at Sara Elena Arbelaez`s house where we there dispatched to our own homes. I went with Heriberto and Cristina. They didnt speak much English but í`ve learned enough to have a 5 minute conversation with them. Quick change and then off to the opening ceremony of the Rotary District conference. After standing up, sitting down, standing up and watching a kids orchestra and a bizarre performance by the local army we headed off for dinner. I was so knackered and had such a screaming sore head i just wanted to go lie down.
In the morning Heriberto told me that Cristina`s aunt had died and there would be a funeral soon. I headed off to the conference to do my last presentation. I had changed it about a bit (well 95% of it - thats all!) So i got Liz and Sonia, one of the Colombian exchange girls who came to scotland last year, to check it over for me. God knows what i,ve been saying to people over the past few weeks but i`m glad i managed to get most of it right. Myriam also gave me a compliment and said that i had really improved my Spanish since i had arrived. I practise every day (my new phrase for today is Yo puedo - i can)
After the presentation i flung off my formal dress and headed off down the street. Liz and Nicola caught up with me and we headed off to lunch in a wee cafe just sitting watching life pass along. About 5pm we headed off to join the conference again who had headed to the local golf club and like sultry teenagers we sat outside on the golf course not wanting to mingle with the parents.
We eventualy ventured inside to the 60`s talent show. Me, Liz and Nicola hadn`t previously been told of the 60`s theme so we just wore our civvies! We sloped off to the balcony area where a stream of Rotaract (young rotarians) and other exchange students came by to chat.
My Ibague family came to tell me that i was moving to Sara Elenas because of their aunts funeral and i got a bit confused when they said come and pack your bags. I thought i was going back to the house i was staying in but instead my clothes had been repacked into my suitcase and a couple of plastic bags and were swiftly transported to Sara Elenas car!
After the 60`s party finished at 10pm we were asked if we wanted to go on the Chiva. The Chiva is an old style bus which has been converted to a disco bus complete with dance floor. Think hen night boogie bus but so much cooler! The bus drives around for 2 hours stopping off at off licenses on request and blasts out Colombian music whilst people dance! Because we had all came from Rotary it was fine as i knew most of the people there - young and old! The bus came to a stop outside a night club on the outskirts of town. The younger rotaract dragged me away from the older couples and told me not to hang about with them as they were too old! Compliment indeed! But i was knackered so Sara Elena and Victor (her husband) took me and Nicola home although Nicolas parents were sleeping so she stayed at Sara Elenas too.
The next day Sara said we could all hang out at her house so we did! Just lounging, catching up on sleep and reading. At 2pm we headed off to get rotary lunch which was served about 4pm. Nothing new there.....Colombia time! On the way home we stopped off for giant Chocolate cake.
The Governors ball wasn`t until 9.30pm so we took our time getting ready before heading off. Glam night twas it! Everyone turned out in their best gear. Dinner was served about 12.15am (Colombia time i`m telling you!) I watched a storm cloud heading in over the horizon and about 1 hour later it got us and we had to move our tables inside. (we were relegated to an outside area along with rotaract!) Both Nicola and I had done enough dancing the night before so we made our excuses and left. Victor took us home but as we were driving into their complex (complete with gates and guards) the street lights went out. The storm/torrential rain had caused a power cut and Victor scrambled round the house looking for candles and torches for us. The power eventually came on and we watched late night telly. I woke up about 6am and moved to the hammock in my room to finish off sleeping. Definetely need to get me one of them!
All in all Ibague was good. Sara Elena was a hoot and we had fun at the 60's night. The Chiva was an expereince and i`m glad we went.
Security in Colombia: We`re i live in Bogota there is a guard at the end of the street and a padlock on our front gated area before you even get to the front door . In Ibague Sara Elena and Victor live in a gated complex. Nicola`s parents lived on a street with a roaming security guard. Everywhere there are police and army. In Ibague there was a high army presence but i think that was partly due to the conference being on and the influx of over 500 people. I`ve passes by on my travels various army bases. Police and army are a recurring theme on the main highways, roads and shopping areas. I suppose having them there is reassuring although the site of a gruff army patrol with a massive automatic weapon makes you understand why many of the rotary we have met moved out of Colombia about 10 years ago due to the violence but have since moved back after President Uribe clamped down on the Guerillas (see i can even have conversations in Spanish about hard topics! Not in depth but at least i`m getting it!). I feel okay here, usual waryness about being in a new country etc. Will have to up my guard in Cartagena though. With it being such a tourist area i suspect it may be different from where i am just now. Rotary are still very scared to let us out in Bogota ourselves but it is a massive city and can understand their fears.
Anyway - catching a flight tomorrow.
Jainymac xx or Jaunita or Pequeno Rio - take your pick!